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LIVING MY GAP YEAR

Filtering by Category: Poetry

Too Distant to Tell

Zuzu Tadeushuk

This is a poem from a month ago, when I was down in Santiago, Chile. What I was quite amazed by was the fact that there were tons of generous, ripe fruit trees producing lemons, oranges, pomegranates etc, even though it is for them the dead of winter. And what fruit! Ah if only I could say the same of my own yard...

~ ~ ~

There’s a hummingbird outside

my window in the 

rose tree which is next to 

the orange tree

which is full of ripe oranges.

There is no need to whittle

away this reality.

I think I’ll take it fully conscious, fully

with my self. 

~ ~

Walking home with a bag

of eggs a dog barked

from behind a wall

and then all of a sudden

I had gilded boots

on the sidewalk

and no eggs.

~ ~

Stop always striving to do

something useful. Think

of the pricker bush

just standing there

to be prickly.

What gags—

the things we don’t 

realize 

are ourselves.

Pricker bushes.

~ ~

There are three parrots in the pomegranate 

tree in the neighbor’s 

yard, the neighbor with the many chimneys,

next to our yard with its full orange bower and annoying cat.

Three parrots like green livers

in pomegranates oranged with morning sun.

Or are they peaches?

Too far to tell.

Why Do I Write Poems?

Zuzu Tadeushuk

Because there’s nothing else to do. 

Because my brain is a horse

and needs regular walking or else

it overheats, dies.

Words are sponges, blue and holey, 

neat swiveled foams

that come to mop my brain cool

and when they’re done they have 

its heat, its juice, its steam and stench of manure,

and they heap

wetly

on tables and shelves—

so many swabs of thought

in some Lab of the Perplexities of Girlhood.

Someday, maybe, they’ll be examined. 

Someday, perhaps, explained.

Departure from Santiago, and Sense.

Zuzu Tadeushuk

In a snuck-up rush and 

with a pitted heart I

scurried out the house, and left

them an I ❤️ NY chocolate bar

and a clogged toilet. 

Shit.

~ ~

I forgot to pick an orange!

I forgot to pick an orange on my

way out of the gate

as I left Chile for Chestnut Ridge.

Cha cha ch—

cha Chestnut

cha Chile

and no naranja for my crossing. 

~ ~

 

Solo travel,

lull lull

Lista, we are all long lista

to go go go to our seats-

14F.  F by the window, F over the wing,

F, eff,

eff you, F this back ache and long wait.

Something new: bring me something new, 

lots of people to know and something to do. 

Solo travel, lull lull lull. 

~ ~ 

An Argentinian boy next to me on the plane is wearing a designer hoodie, oversize baseball cap, intentionally shredded black jeans. He looks about 11 years old. He looks sort of Coptic, as in the coptic Egyptian mummy portraits in gallery 138 of the Met. He has large round deep dull eyes and stares indifferently ahead. The aircraft begins to taxi to take off and in a flash he, too, whirrs into motion— and crosses himself.

~ ~

Boringness, there is so much boringness

before me: such hours and hours

(sixteen of them to be precise)

of burst-bubble blandness. What

will go by in this head?

~ ~

Oh dear, what will I do, the boy next to me fell asleep now and no longer prays for us. I am idle, all idleness and a spoon. Stir me around! Dip me in the divine, for I want to pray too! I want so bad to be part of a tradition and to believe, but I always feel an imposter, a pretender, genuflecting for a genie of my chilly silly child head. Go to bed now.

~ ~

We are high enough now to see 

the clouds like a sea,

and I see

them roll against the Andes in rumpled waves,

white and spumy and

spilled on by cool twilight light. Not golden,

but blue. Silver,

silver like swells on the sea. 

~ ~

And now the boredom comes, and

the blandness sets in, and

I bake, I bubble, I break.

View above the Andes

A Persistent Smell of Gas in Chile

Zuzu Tadeushuk

I was the only one who knew they walked into their tomb

and yet I kept sitting there too. 

Me in mine and they in theirs and

still I lingered.

Hard to defy death when it means giving up a soft seat.

A seat smack on the bulge of our demise,

on the hot red 

smelly hump of a-moment’s-away combustion,

but I stayed through many bus door snapping shuts 

and menacing accelerations,

bating breath. 

A baby cried.

~ ~

But somehow the 

tomb declined to 

yawn just then

and we stepped alive into the night when it was practical

to do so and breathed the air at our stop. 

Then a car almost hit us, and I was 

the only one to know, but

at least I'm here still to say so.

Roadkill on the Way to Coffee

Zuzu Tadeushuk

Or, The Day Off:

There were two dead raccoons on

the road where I walk.

One was very fresh

hit last night, perhaps.

It terrified me

stepping over it. 

Scared that that eye 

might open and I’d have to do something about

a half life teetering on the brink,

and the shoulder of Rt. 45

for maybe many taut hours already.

Scared that 

that eye might twitch

and I’d fall flat in the road and be

run over too,

roadkilled on the way to coffee?

After all our petitioning there are still no sidewalks. 

 

~ ~

 

My god, starting so early.

At 19 already living a barnacled writing life?

But no—

the more years I can

squeeze out of writing, the more

exultant will be my dying self

somewhere far down the road, I hope. 

But hush, hush, I can’t

write about writing until

I’ve really done it—

somewhere not far down the road, I hope. 

 

~ ~

 

Zuzu

you’re complete

you’re complete

you’re complete

horse crap.

And now you’ve shocked yourself

with a whiff. 

 

~ ~

 

Everything’s out there and out 

there and out there

and poking.

I’m not out there,

I’m not public, 

I’m not fast.

why, why, why 

am I how I am?

I think we should all 

live on farms.

 

~ ~

 

With at little bit of salt

and much moments of 

midnight

I managed to 

piece together

this parcel of a poem. 

People always call works of art “pieces…”

Are they really so fragmented?

I’d like to make something whole

once,

chase the last salty 

drop from my cheek,

feel renewed,

wrung,

more than partially alive.

 

Not teetering on a brink,

not roadkill, no 

not I, not I.

 

~ ~

 

My nostrils trap 

the scent of coffee

as it slithers thickly back across the glimpsed full-moon

bottom of the cup

that I draw from my lips

and place on its whitey saucer

that shines in the diffuse cloud light. I’m at a terrace table.

 

And I am wearing

a creamy white sweater

like a blob

a burr

a cloud 

and my hair is how it is when I wake 

in the morning, in a poof,

and my face is round

and it is mine 

and my head is mine

and my hands are mine

and my knees are mine

and my shoes are mine- dear boots!-

on feet that are mine

and I am all just

feeling like me

once more.

And I am head to toe

quietness

and tranquil.

Watercolor and Gouache on Paper. Self Portrait, hydrating.

Tides and Tribulations

Zuzu Tadeushuk

You were weaving too many ideas together,

a dangerous thing at best

stitching together impossible hopes

like a pearl embroiderer

embroidering pearls on the dock where your heart

was shipped overseas.

On its way it got lost

though

dropped somehow, silent,

and the seagulls saw

it, they were the only ones,

and ate it like a clam.

Packaged and lost in the span of two days,

and now

where does that leave you?

 

On the playroom table.

We played doctor when we were young, faking 

C sections and craniotomy.

You’re just a soft white mouse,

the Christmas toy always left out of the game

and the brother crying above.

You always knew you were heartless 

towards yourself, chest empty— 

clam gone

embroidering spangled droplets of your blood

over the sea like

foam on my ebbing hope.

JK I love Life, but we all have moments...

What Makes The Writer Write

Zuzu Tadeushuk

  1. An abundance of beauty, and of connections to be drawn.
  2. One ambitious thought agitating for recognition. Make something of me!
  3. Stubbornness, and a love of lists. 
  4. Insomnia.
  5. Loitering in coffeeshops and eavesdropping. 
  6. Long walks, keen observation, fresh air like blood rushing to the brain. 
  7. Discreet narcissism.
  8. The smell of notebook. 
  9. Dark rooms, beds, things that suggest it’s time to sleep. 
  10. Phantoms asking to be memorized.
  11. Like I presume to know what makes a writer write? 
  12. Sometimes not-so-discreet narcissism, it seems. 
  13. Being isolated, being pierced, having a pit in your stomach. A love of lists within lists, it seems.
  14. Daring to grasp a phantom, denting it, loving it.
  15. Loving the dead squirrel on the path home, too. Step over it now, flee with a moan back to the living.
  16. Tea, gratitude,
  17. Good pencils.

Watercolor Crayon on Paper

Cavewoman Sleeping

Zuzu Tadeushuk

11 pm is the hour of the poems

when something brilliant thumps

against my skull

a winged creature

passing by night

snagged in my cavewoman hair.

If I’m asleep, 

he escapes

with his freedom. 

If not

I pick him shred by shred

from off my head

and hope I can

recreate him.

Indigo Kitchen

Zuzu Tadeushuk

Cooking for a special new

stomach is a measure of protection

Like a best friend

who just got a haircut

looking a little new way

going a little away

and a brother already gone there

to the land of Indigo cooking

where I went and ate churros. 

Three places, one peace

piecing together the wonky

people we’ll become-

fathers and mothers

cooking someday for really

new stomachs 

in an indigo kitchen,

eardrums pressed to the dawn.

Nicolai left to Chile last week, and  Sophia left to Switzerland after getting a haircut. I stay here and remember Madrid... Colored pencil on paper. 

Cherub Baby

Zuzu Tadeushuk

A cherub baby

ran around the room.

we thought it was cupid

but she was a girl

named Hailey.

Her mom was semi pshycho 

talking on the phone

about her husband

and repeating the story many times,

always the same words. 

The art cafe was quiet otherwise

and cupid kept on running.

sorry if you're reading this Hailey’s mom

but you didn't make it any secret. 

i’m tired, you see, and we 

none of us

speak sweet sans sleep.

5 Ways of Looking at Waiting

Zuzu Tadeushuk

My Month in Review

Forget the iPhone Photo Journal! This month I look back through poetry...

 

Five Ways of looking at waiting:

1.

A torpor trundles along in this bus

a kneeling bus they call it

submitting

perhaps like me

at least to the shuddering of it’s onslaught,

the exhaust and dirty buildings and billboards-

that lullaby of the highway.

Submitting perhaps like me

to the desire to achieve remarkableness 

through vast ordinariness— to be intensely normal.

Baggy clothes, slouchy hair

on shoulders

and dirty door stoops.

Do you think I can?

What a shame then to have this opportunity- 

the grand chance that is human existence- 

gone to lethargy

and an ape.

Squalid, squandered,

days amount to squat

when you're living between plane tickets

and the kneeling bus. 

2.

I am no more destined

for a public life than Emily Dickinson—

and that’s about where the  parallels end.

Sherry eyes and nightgowns on the stairs,

I am wishful of such prolificness!

Licking a creamy envelope

and tucking it in a winter mailbox to chill.

Oh Emily

would I were so steady

or sure. Were you?

3.

I don’t know yet what moves me

or how to un-kneel

unfold these legs

and rub my pimply knees.

I'd like to go

for a walk.

4.

Wait-

I want to 

feel you

feel my

brow

and tell me I don't lack passion.

5.

There are soap suds 

in the escarole tonight

and there are dishes of things to be thought tonight.

It is amazing what we are shown

by one keyhole glimpse of humanhood!

Standing at the sink

elbow deep in soap suds and the smell 

of the burnt bottom of the pan

my hands are made like paper-

scratchy, meant to carry words

and dishes, perhaps, on nights like this.

Unlike paper,

I feel and am felt. I think this will last.

I’m germinating a pervasive, precious knowing

and this will be me in a forever sort of way.

Today is One of the Thinking Days

Zuzu Tadeushuk

And I Thought of This...

On some days I'm a crystalline capitulation of myself 

And then even passing below a telephone wire is inspiring, an epiphany.

Other days, 

most days,

I'm just a wart of me 

Stagnating on the tip of a cosmic toe

Somewhere far from the blood stream of life.

Then I don't see the telephone wire,

I'm in a shoe. 

The New Holy Trinity? Words, Weather, and Wee Little Wonders.

Zuzu Tadeushuk

It is still dark this morning when we leave the house for Hook Mountain. I am only half awake, feeling drowsy and a bit like a wilted tea leaf in last night's drained mug that's still on my dresser. Today is Sunday- Easter Sunday no less- but this morning there's no limitless lounging twixt the sheets,  no slow, easy emulsion of coffee and undisrupted reading. This morning I am climbing the “Hook” to watch the sun rise over the Hudson River— with my family, close friends, and a backpack full of breakfast.  

As I walk the sky lightens and I am impressed by the bland, brown beauty of this Hudson Valley terrain I live in. I am quiet, running words through my head with a pattern that I step, a verse—

“A Walking Writer”

Is writing as she walks.

Is she then a writing walker?

Stomping a search for synonyms. Not cinnamon. That’s already in the cupboard.

Did you know “rust” is a synonym for cinnamon? 

Sepia, snot

and singalong are not

synonyms for cinnamon, even when sung along

a lot. 

Now there’s a way to warp a word--

sent from a word-warping writing, walking walker-writer

to you-

with greetings too.

We reach the peak of the Hook, a tall, bald lookout on the west bank of the Hudson. The river is wide and a dull, wrinkled grey; reflective of the overcast sky that is shrouding our treasured sunrise. Oh well: a narrow strip of pink is all we’re graced with, just a glimpse of dawn “spread out against the sky / like a patient etherized upon a table,” as T.S. Eliot would elegantly put it— or, as I might paint the image, like the slimy orange slabs of smoked salmon whose unique odor drove me from the kitchen as a child vegetarian, holding my nose.

Breakfast is eaten alfresco and the hike is reversed. Back home by ten, we rally to prepare an extravagant lunch (soups and grilled veggies and quiches, oh my!), host a humbly extravagant (if such a paradox can be tolerated) lunch party, and decorate eggs in the ancient Ukrainian Easter tradition (which is to say playing with fire, melted wax, raw eggs and lots of pretty plant dyes)! 

When the party is over and the creative stores exhausted, we all begin to feel the toll of our early start. The remedy to drowsy afternoon hours? A power nap… and writing another little poem :)

“Power Nap”

Consciousness clots

and my mind glides like mud

into a nap

that obscures the precious smolder of evening

and clears only after

the sun has set. 

Sleep stole from me those ruddy, gilded hours

so glorious through the trees,

but got me a snatch of rest instead

and a dream almost

as vivid. 

So you see, on this lovely day of March 27, 2016, this mild Easter Sunday, I was robbed both of sunrise and sunset: one obscured by stratocumulus fog, the other by my leaden lids. What I did see of this day, though, far made up for the solar splendors I missed, and was peaceful, luxuriant, and- in our own  haphazard, familial way- gleefully, wistfully sacred. 

On Living Long:

Zuzu Tadeushuk

Some days I want to live life for a century, or until I'm 104 years old. 

Others, only enough to know that I've seen it. 

Earth is a porcupine I hug, 

and prickles my tummy

and my arms.

13 Ways of Looking at an Airplane

Zuzu Tadeushuk

I am currently sitting on a plane suspended somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, headed from NY to Paris, again. Having returned home from Paris not even four days ago, this morning I was still figuring out what to post here about my homecoming when… I found out I was shipping off to Paris again this evening! So, rather than write about home, I will write about the next best thing— the thing that seems to have become my home in the past few months: an airplane. Well, no one can accuse me of being a couch potato in this year off of mine! (Although I probably qualify as an airplane potato and that can't be much better?)

Anyway, here are my current musings on aircraft residency, in a form spun off of Wallace Stevens’ famed poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird:

 

Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Airplane:

 

I.

29 times faster than steamship.

II.

Can we meet for coffee tomorrow? 

Quite a valid question. Let's wait till tomorrow morning, and by then I’ll probably know whether I'm flying anywhere that day. 

Probably.

III.

Portal to opportunity.

IV.

Portal to death.

V.

One earth, 

five layers of atmosphere, 

one orbiting moon, 

one constant shell of metal travel, teeming somewhere in the middle.

VI.

Maybe closer to heaven

VII.

But mostly feels like hell 

VIII.

French taxi strikes surrounded the airport and did not let my Uber through. This is why I left early. To find another path to that airplane.

IX.

It was night and it was day. Apollo inverted, I chased the sunrise across the globe, hungry for that thin band of gold

that flew

just a little faster

than I did.

X.

An old man with his dentures out has a row to himself in the Priority Cabin. He’s slowly leafing through his passport as if it were Crime and Punishment. Perhaps it is. His mouth’s a sunken cavern, like my grandma’s when I used to put her to bed.

XI.

Landing on a tiny strip on the island of Tortolla after a short and choppy ride, everyone clapped and I was swarmed with amazement. My first plane ride.

XII.

The number of contorted positions I’ve improvised in my aisle seat could get me a yoga-teaching certification. It couldn't get me to sleep, though.

XII.

I rented a place among the stars for an evening. 

Between one of these settlings in and the next, I was celestially unsettled, and I woke to a different shining.

A doze, a bad smell, a shudder, and we open eyes now on other lands.

Momentary Winter

Zuzu Tadeushuk

A waiting clod of dirt in snow, 

the kiss of tea on expectant lips,

the anticipation of generations infini

spawns hollow human neediness

today. 

The deadly dream fell away 

from me

for a moment here

grinning broadly at the wall

I was normal

for a moment here 

before sense

like blinders

fell back into slots on either side 

of what appeared to me the

horizon of human consciousness. 

Ancestry

Zuzu Tadeushuk

On one miscarriage of the wind

blew the chaff of the creation seed

carried by a firefly and emptied

by accident

to spawn a race of slow beasts in the mud.

Sun beat down on them and

was bounteous

and its falling firedrops

beaded on their eyelashes,

its scorching waves of age-old breath tickled

their mangy chests,

its rising and its setting

twixt four beech-gold horizons, 

kindled in their furnace-breasts

a bellowing joy that fit 

their ancient, shivering dreams.

Sun-loving, they knew much more than we.

 

Now the sun dies on the rocky horizon

not lingering but fading, fading,

till it no longer washes this melt-stained planet face

with guild.

I want to shatter the leagues

of distance that stretch between here and the stars,

and stroke the warm orbs that bless our birth 

and kiss the twinkling benevolent eyes

that survey our souls in death.

Food for Thought...and then some

Zuzu Tadeushuk

It is Christmas Day and we have just finished the gigantic Christmas dinner that my mom and I spent two days cooking. And right now I’m feeling that familiar post-party feeling, the aftermath-of-the-feast feeling... the food coma. You must know it: symptoms include a straining sensation in the abdomen like a helium balloon ready to burst, the desire to slice your stomach open and dribble away to a puddle of nothingness? Yes, that’s what I’m experiencing now…all summed up into this short little poem I wrote, a spin off of William Carlos Williams’ iconic This is Just to Say:

This Is Just To Say
BY WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

This is just to say

BY ME

I don’t think I’ll ever

touch food again

cause hunger is delicious

so sweet

and so cold

and nourishment is cloying.